Mars, which we often see in photos of rovers and orbits, is dry, dusty and barren, but there are parts of the planet that, when viewed separately, might make you think you are looking at a completely alien alien earth, The last photo taken by ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter fits into that last category.
The image was taken with the help of the CaSSIS camera, one of many orbital instruments and shows the frosty dunes covering the northern region of Mars, rarely seen closely. Plus it definitely looks at least a bit like cookie-flavored ice cream.
As the European Space Agency explains in a publication highlighting the photo, dark areas are cracks and gaps in the ice that form when gas is trapped from below released. When the gas is released, it brings dust and sand with it, covering the edges of the cracks with the darker material.
Like the dunes observed on Earth, the flowing forms that form on the surface of Mars are carved by winds. As the ESA explains, the shapes we see in this particular image can tell scientists a lot about the processes that occur on the surface:
The image also captures barchan crescent or U-shaped dunes that appear to the right in image ̵1; as they join and merge into the barchanoid ridges. The curved tips of the dune dunes point downwards. The transition from barchan to barchanoid dunes tells us that secondary winds also play a role in shaping the dunes.
Despite the fact that people seem to be destined to explore the Red Planet sooner rather than later, places like this they probably won will not be on the list for these early travelers. For now, we're just going to have to enjoy the view from above.